Tyneside SA: Candidate for mayor

Tyneside Socialist Alliance is standing a candidate for the mayoral by-election being held in North Tyneside on Thursday June 12. Steve Cooke reports

International Socialist Group member Louise van der Hoeven is contesting the position left vacant after the Conservative Party’s rising star in the region, Chris Morgan, resigned as mayor less than a year after being elected, following his arrest on suspicion of possessing pornographic images of children. Morgan denies the allegations.

Comrade van der Hoeven, one of six ISGers elected to the Socialist Alliance’s expanded national executive committee last month, faces competition from the three mainstream parties plus a fascist candidate (standing on a ‘National Front, Britain for the British’ platform). Following the British National Party’s success in achieving 13% support in nearby Sunderland in May’s local elections, there is a real worry that the NF will register a significant protest vote.

Last month’s council election results in North Tyneside suggest that Labour has regained a marginal lead since last year’s shock loss to the Tories. The SA polled 3.5% of the votes in the mayoral contest of 2002.

Under the legislation for mayoral elections, voters are able to cast two votes - for their first and second choices. In the event of no candidate receiving 50% of the first preferences, all but the top two candidates drop out and second-choice votes are taken into consideration. If, as seems likely, the contest goes to a second stage count, the final result should be announced in the early hours of June 13.

Remarkably the Socialist Alliance website makes no mention of the North Tyneside election. While the activities of Michael Lavalette, our newly elected councillor in Preston, are deserving of the attention afforded them, the absence of any coverage of the SA campaign in the north-east’s main urban centre is regrettable.

With this election coming hot on the heels of council elections, Tyneside SA is appealing for donations from comrades to help them cover the costs of a high-profile campaign. Cheques, made payable to Tyneside Socialist Alliance, should be sent to the SA c/o TUC Unemployed Centre, 4 The Cloth Market, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1.